Step 3: Home Airport

This step involves figuring out which airlines are best for you to accumulate points in. The airports closest to your home will most likely be the starting points of your trips.

If you don’t already have an idea which airports you prefer to fly from, here is a handy tool for finding airports near you: Travel Math

  • Use the search box on the right side of the page
  • Input your city and state

Once you know which airports are near you, head to the wikipedia page for those airport. Scroll down to the “Airlines and Destinations” section to determine which of the airlines in Step 1 are operating at that airport. Additionally, major airlines have what are called hubs, or focus cities, that have many flights originating from that location. This means they have a lot of flights to and from that airport, and can usually get you anywhere in the US via connections. Take a look at the list of airports below to determine your nearest hub or focus city.

United States Hubs and Focus Cities

  • Anchorage, AK (Alaska)
  • Atlanta, GA (Delta, Southwest)
  • Baltimore, MD (Southwest)
  • Boston, MA (Delta, Jetblue)
  • Charlotte, NC (American/US Airways)
  • Chicago, IL (American/US Airways, United, Southwest)
  • Cincinatti, OH (Delta)
  • Cleveland, OH (Frontier)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, TX (American/US Airways, Southwest)
  • Denver, CO (Frontier, Southwest, United)
  • Detroit, MI (Delta)
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL (Jetblue)
  • Houston, TX (Southwest, United)
  • Las Vegas, NV (Southwest)
  • Long Beach, CA (Jetblue)
  • Los Angeles, CA (Alaska, American/US Airways, Delta, Southwest, United)
  • Miami, FL (American/US Airways)
  • Milwaukee, WI (Southwest)
  • Minneapolis, MN (Delta)
  • Nashville, TN (Southwest)
  • New York City, NY (American/US Airways, Delta, Jetblue)
  • Newark, NJ (United)
  • Oakland, CA (Southwest)
  • Orlando, FL (Jetblue, Southwest)
  • Philadelphia, PA (American/US Airways)
  • Phoenix, AZ (American/US Airways, Southwest)
  • Portland, OR (Alaska)
  • Salt Lake City, UT (Delta)
  • San Fransisco, CA (United)
  • San Juan, PR (Jetblue)
  • Seattle (Alaska, Delta)
  • San Diego, CA (Southwest)
  • Tampa, FL (Southwest)
  • Trenton, NJ (Frontier)
  • Washington, DC (American/US Airways, Frontier, United)

If you’re in or near one of the above cities I definitely recommend trying to build up miles in the programs listed next to them. This will give you a ton of flight options by themselves. Additionally, banking miles in the big three American carriers (American/US Airways, Delta, and United) will usually get you anywhere you need to go in the US.

At the end of this step:

  • You’ll know your nearest hub airports and the airlines that service them.
  • You’ll have a list of one to four airline loyalty programs to focus on. These programs will be the primary way you’ll start the first leg of many of your trips.